Minding the Gap – Review

3 mins read

Exploring the Skateboarding peer group of his youth Bing Liu provides a multi layered documentary that speaks to the challenging journey from boyhood to manhood in a community of limited opportunity.

Minding the Gap mixes the adrenaline soaked world of skateboarding culture with a nuanced exploration of masculinity, coming of age and family.

Following a group of young men from a skateboarding peer group living at the corners of their community, Bing Liu maximises the close relationships of friendship developed over many years to shine a light on the modern experience of young men transitioning to adult life. The result is deeply emotional journey of self discovery, poverty of opportunity and domestic conflict and the direct effects on the lives of young men in modern America; the American dream set starkly against the realities of opportunity in a community of limited options.

Starting its life as a collection of home shot skateboard videos alongside his friends Keire Johnson and Zack Mulligan. Bing Liu builds on these rough beginnings to create a portrait of his community Rockford, Illinois and the lives of the young men who provided him with the stability of escapism and belonging growing up; the thrill of skateboarding intercut with the realities of dysfunctional family life. Bing Liu clearly demonstrates the importance of youth sub culture in creating a feeling of belonging and place, while demonstrating its fleeting nature as adult life and responsibility takes hold.

Key themes of masculinity and its toxic presence in many family structures are unflinchingly explored, alongside the perpetuation of these traits via poverty of opportunity.

There is true honesty and powerful self reflection in the young men involved; the need for escape and transformation often quietly screaming behind their everyday lives.

Deserving its Oscar nomination in 2019 Minding the Gap is one of the best documentary explorations of modern masculinity and coming of age in recent memory.

Far more than a simple exploration of youth sub culture and belonging, Bing Liu builds a documentary of powerful social commentary on the transition to adult life in rust belt America.

Country: USA 🇺🇸

Director: Bing Liu

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